When most people steep a cup of tea in the morning or sip a cup of tea as a mid-afternoon ritual, they turn to popular teas like green tea, black tea, or herbal tea like chamomile or peppermint, or perhaps even the now-wildly popular matcha tea.
However, there are also unique benefits of sipping other types of tea, such as nettle tea.
It may sound bizarre, but stinging nettle can be an excellent foundation for tea, and there are a surprising number of health benefits of nettle tea.
In this article, we will discuss the health benefits of nettle tea and how to make nettle tea.
We will cover:
- What Is Nettle Tea?
- 6 Health Benefits of Nettle Tea
- How to Prepare Nettle Tea
Let’s get started!
What Is Nettle Tea?
Nettle tea is an herbal tea made by steeping the leaves of the nettle plant.
The nettle plant, also called stinging nettle, is a shrub with the scientific name Urtica dioica that is native to northern Europe and Asia.
The nettle plant is subjectively quite attractive, with little yellow or pink flowers and heart-shaped leaves. However, the stems on the bush are coated with stinging barbs, which are tiny, stiff hairs that release chemicals that can sting or burn when they contact your skin.
Stinging nettle has been incorporated into herbal remedies and used in traditional medicinal applications for several hundred years.
The leaves, stems, and roots may be ground into a powder, soaked as a tea, taken as a tincture, incorporated into a cream, and so on.
Nettle tea is typically made by crushing and then soaking the leaves of the stinging nettle plant in boiling water.
Nettle tea is an herbal tea, so it does not contain appreciable caffeine content, making it a great option for people who are sensitive to caffeine or who want to enjoy a cup of tea later in the day without the risk of disrupting sleep.
6 Health Benefits of Nettle Tea
In addition to enjoying the herbaceous flavor, people may choose to drink nettle tea for a variety of health benefits.
In fact, because nettle tea has been around for several centuries, with evidence suggesting its merit, there have even been scientific studies conducted to investigate the potential health benefits of stinging nettle tea.
Here are some of the evidence-based health benefits of nettle tea:
#1: Nettle Tea May Alleviate Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Pain
One of the primary traditional medicinal uses of nettle is to alleviate muscle soreness and joint pain, particularly when associated with arthritis.
#2: Nettle Tea May Improve Urinary Tract Health
Cranberry juice and cranberry extract often steal the spotlight when it comes to the best thing to drink for your urinary health, particularly if you have a urinary tract infection (UTI). However, nettle tea may be just as effective.
Nettle tea, or nettle extract, has been shown to help flush harmful bacteria out of the urinary tract.
Bacteria in the urinary tract can cause not only urinary tract infections and bladder infections but can also exacerbate benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), an unfortunately common and uncomfortable condition in older men characterized by an enlargement of the prostate gland. BPH can cause pain, urgency, frequency, and difficulty voiding during urination.
One study found that nettle extract reduced urinary symptoms for men with BPH.
Because nettle can help flush bacteria from the urinary tract, it’s also reasonable to hypothesize that drinking nettle tea if you have a urinary tract infection or feel one coming on can potentially be an effective way to reduce the progression of the infection and ameliorate some of the symptoms.
Although nettle extract or nettle tea may support urinary health, it’s always a good idea to discuss herbal supplementation with your doctor, especially if you are taking prescription medications, as there can potentially be interactions that can either augment or inhibit the effects of your medication.
#3: Nettle Tea May Help Regulate Blood Sugar Levels
With pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and insulin resistance at near-pandemic levels, the issue of managing blood sugar levels is a daily challenge for millions of adults.
The good news is that there is evidence to suggest that drinking nettle tea may help regulate blood sugar levels, perhaps by either stimulating the pancreas to produce or release more insulin or increasing the sensitivity of the cells in the body to the circulating insulin.
The latter scenario would be particularly beneficial for those with insulin resistance or type two diabetes, as these conditions are marked by a decreased sensitivity to insulin, requiring the body to produce even more of the hormone.
One study found that people with type 2 diabetes who took 500mg of nettle leaf extract every 8 hours for three months along with insulin and their oral diabetes medications experienced significant decreases in both blood glucose and hemoglobin A1c levels compared with subjects who only took insulin and oral medication.
#4: Nettle Tea Is Packed With Healthy Polyphenols
Polyphenols are chemicals found in certain plants that have been shown to confer numerous health benefits in the body. Stinging nettle is rich in several powerful health-promoting polyphenols, such as those found in green tea leaves.
A review investigating the benefits of consuming polyphenols found that these compounds can reduce inflammation in the body.
Because consistent, low-grade inflammation underpins many chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and certain cancers, nettle, or other foods high in polyphenols, can help prevent and manage these conditions.
There are also studies to suggest that the polyphenols found in nettle extract, in particular, can potentially help treat certain cancers, such as breast cancer and prostate cancer, two of the most common types of cancer.
#5: Nettle Tea May Help Protect the Cells From Oxidative Damage
Stinging nettle is high in antioxidants, beneficial compounds that help combat free radicals in the body.
Free radicals are reactive oxygen species that cause oxidative damage to cells and tissues, manifesting in skin wrinkles, premature aging, and other cellular damage on an internal level we cannot readily see.
By consuming foods and beverages high in antioxidants, you can help protect your cells from this damage.
#6: Nettle Tea May Reduce Stress
Although not necessarily a health benefit of nettle tea, backed by scientific evidence, the very act of steeping, sipping, and reflecting over a cup of herbal tea can be a relaxing and stress-reducing ritual for many people.
Adding a cup of nettle tea to your diet can be a calorie-free way to bring on a sense of calm.
How to Make Nettle Tea
Nettle tea should be readily available to buy as a loose-leaf tea or in tea bags in most places, but you can also make your own from scratch if you want to soak the leaves of the nettle bush yourself.
If you want to make your own nettle tea, gather 1 cup of nettle leaves loosely packed together. Boil 2 cups of water and then add the leaves to the water. Once the leaves have been added to the boiling water, you can turn off the stove and allow the mixture to steep for 5 to 10 minutes.
Then, carefully pour the mixture through a strainer or sieve, and serve in tea cups with or without honey, sugar, or some other form of sweetener.
You can also mince up the leaves prior to soaking them and add them to a tea ball or fillable tea bag.
Experiment with the ratio of tea leaves to tea water that you enjoy and how long you like to steep your tea.
Nettle tea tends to have a fairly bitter taste, so many people enjoy a little sweetener to take the edge off.
As with any kind of herbal supplement, it is best to start with a less concentrated tea (shorter steeping time and a higher water-to-tea-leaves ratio) to make sure you don’t experience any adverse reactions before having multiple cups of concentrated tea.
If you are currently taking any medications, it is a good idea to talk with your doctor before adding herbal supplements to your routine.
Overall, while there are probably many benefits of any type of tea that you are drinking, consider swapping your usual brew for a cup of nettle tea to enjoy some of the many benefits of this unique herbal tea.
If you enjoy sipping tea and are looking for even more options with a list of health benefits, you may be interested in our article on the benefits of Matcha tea.